The point guard is often referred to as the coach’s extension on the court. A head coach and point guard must be in sync so that the offense can flow smoothly. Beginning his first season as the head coach of Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton has found himself a partner.
Entering as the NBA’s youngest head coach, the 36-year-old will incorporate some philosophies from Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr; an up-tempo style offense with spacing and selflessness.
That philosophy must now translate over to D’Angelo Russell, the presumed star to take over after Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Russell illustrated his excitement when Walton signed, also giving his coach an ovation when introduced at the new practice facility.
The two have formed quite the bond, with less than a week until their first training camp in Santa Barbara. Russell has alluded to Walton as a big brother, relishing the opportunity to learn from a brilliant basketball mind.
As a younger coach, Walton obtains the ability to connect with the millennial generation of players entering the league. The roster commencing this season has heard of the respect Walton has garnered, even before his coaching debut.
In fact, Walton has started allocating some leadership duties to the Kentucky native, via Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
He is proud that Walton, from their first time together in offseason workouts, requested Russell’s voice to break the team’s huddles: “This is the point guard! He’s the leader!” Walton bellowed. “When he speaks, guys, you gotta listen.”
With a celebration attached to him, Russell has begun reaping the benefits and negatives of the spotlight in Los Angeles. His ‘ice in my veins’ dance has created quite the following, especially after a outstanding game-winner sealed the summer league contest.
During his rookie season, Russell averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. The 20-year-old was a 2015-16 All Rookie selection, attempting to continue off the momentum he built towards the end of last season.
With a new head coach and young core ready to take the next step, the franchise is heading in the right direction. With Walton and Russell on the same page, the Lakers could be farther ahead than imagined.